1st trimester pregnancy: What to expect

The first trimester of pregnancy can be overwhelming. Understand the changes you might experience and how to take care of yourself during this exciting time.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

During the first few months of pregnancy, amazing changes happen quickly. This part of pregnancy is called the first trimester. Knowing what physical and emotional changes to expect can help you face the months ahead with confidence.

Your body

Your first symptom of pregnancy might have been a missed period. But you can expect other physical changes in the coming weeks, including:

  • Tender, swollen breasts. Soon after you become pregnant, hormonal changes might make your breasts sensitive or sore. You'll likely have less discomfort after a few weeks as your body adjusts to hormone changes.
  • Upset stomach with or without vomiting. Feeling like vomiting during pregnancy is known as morning sickness. It's common, and it can strike at any time of the day or night. Morning sickness often begins between 4 to 9 weeks into a pregnancy. This might be due to rising hormone levels. To help relieve an upset stomach, try these tips:
    • Avoid having an empty stomach. Eat slowly and in small amounts every 1 to 2 hours.
    • Choose bland foods that are low in fat. Some examples are bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. Include lean proteins such as low- or no-fat dairy, nuts, nut butters and seeds.
    • Foods that contain ginger might help settle your stomach.
    • Stay away from foods or smells that make your upset stomach worse.
    • Sip plenty of cold, clear fluids.
  • Call your healthcare professional if your upset stomach or vomiting becomes worse.

  • More urination. You might find yourself urinating more often than usual. The amount of blood in the body increases during pregnancy. This causes the kidneys to process extra fluid that ends up in the bladder.
  • Fatigue. It's common to feel very tired during early pregnancy as levels of the hormone progesterone rise. Rest as much as you can. Take a 15-minute nap during the day if you can. A healthy diet and exercise might boost your energy.
  • Food cravings and dislikes. When you're pregnant, your sense of taste might change. Some smells may seem stronger too. To help, try using a fan when you cook. Ask a family member or partner to take out the trash if possible. Like most other symptoms of pregnancy, food preferences are due to hormone changes.
  • Heartburn. Pregnancy hormones slow down the digestion of food. The hormones also relax the valve between the stomach and esophagus. This can let stomach acid leak into your esophagus, causing heartburn. To prevent heartburn:
    • Eat small, frequent meals.
    • Sip drinks in between meals.
    • Don't eat fried foods, citrus fruits, chocolate or spicy foods.
    • Don't lie down right after a meal.
    • Try not to eat or drink within a few hours of going to bed.
  • Talk with your healthcare professional if these steps don't give you enough relief. Safe medicines are available for heartburn.

  • Constipation. High levels of the hormone progesterone can slow the movement of food through the digestive system. This can cause fewer or painful bowel movements. So can the growing uterus, which may put pressure on the bowels.

    To prevent or relieve constipation, eat plenty of foods with fiber. These include fresh or dried fruit, raw vegetables, and whole-grain cereals and bread. Drink lots of fluids too, especially water and prune juice or other fruit juices. Cut back on drinks with caffeine. Regular physical activity also helps. Talk with your healthcare professional about stool softeners if needed.

Your emotions

Pregnancy might make you feel delighted, anxious, excited and exhausted — sometimes all at once. Even if you're thrilled about being pregnant, a new baby can add stress to your life.

It's natural to worry about your baby's health, your adjustment to parenthood and the financial demands of raising a child. If you're employed, you might worry about how to balance the demands of family and career. You also may have mood swings. What you're feeling is common. Take care of yourself and look to loved ones for understanding and support. If your mood changes become serious or intense, see your healthcare professional. Also get a checkup if you feel moody, sad or overwhelmed for longer than two weeks.

Prenatal care

You might choose to get care from various healthcare professionals during your pregnancy. These professionals may include a family doctor, obstetrician, nurse-midwife or other pregnancy specialist. Whoever you choose to see, your healthcare professional can treat, educate and reassure you throughout your pregnancy.

Your first pregnancy checkup focuses on:

  • Checking your overall health.
  • Finding any risk factors that could affect the health of you or your baby.
  • Figuring out how far along the pregnancy is, also called your baby's gestational age.

Your healthcare professional asks detailed questions about your health history. Be honest. If you're not comfortable talking about your health history in front of your partner, schedule a private appointment. Also expect to learn about first trimester screening for chromosomal abnormalities.

You'll likely have checkups every four weeks for about the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. You may need checkups more or less often. It depends on your health and medical history. During these appointments, talk about any concerns you might have about pregnancy, childbirth or life with a newborn. Remember, no question is silly or trivial — and the answers can help you take care of yourself and your baby.

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Feb. 27, 2024 See more In-depth